Nevada City police chief promises full investigation of assaults at BLM rally
Nevada City officials released a statement censuring counter-protestors who showed up to a Black Lives Matter rally in Nevada City Sunday night and caused multiple confrontations, and promised to fully investigate the reports of assaults that took place.
“Over the course of the day, I have had the opportunity to review several different video clips of the conflict provided to me by the community,” Police Chief Chad Ellis said in the statement. “I was both appalled and disappointed by the behavior of the counter-protesters.”
Ellis noted the counter-protesters were waving Thin Blue Line flags as a show of support for the police, but said the actions and behavior did nothing more than put the community in danger and would “absolutely” not be tolerated.
In a Facebook post, local Back the Blue organizers stated they did not organize or promote Sunday’s counter-protest. While the post stated that the group does not condone violence, it also called the counter-protestors “local patriots” reacting to “a string of recent events of violence and vandalism in our community from proclaimed BLM/defund protesters.” Another local Facebook group, Patriots Pushing Back, released a statement Tuesday that it does not condone violence, adding. “Please do not assume any violent behavior that took place on Sunday was affiliated with either (Patriots Pushing Back) or the (Back the Blue) group.”
Ellis said he has launched an investigation into the incident and has assigned a special investigator to exclusively handle this case. Angela Ford, a reserve officer for the department, is a former investigator for the Placer County District Attorney’s Office and can be reached at Angela.Ford@nevadacityca.gov. Ellis added that he also has been in communication with Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell, who offered him any additional resources his department might need.
“I encourage anyone who was present at the protest and victimized by an assault, a theft, a vandalism or any other crime to please come forward and provide our investigator with a statement so we can seek criminal prosecution against those involved,” Ellis said.
“We will continue to review the video footage provided by the community as well as police body camera footage,” he said. “I appreciate the public reaching out to me with their concerns and firsthand accounts of what took place. It is my hope that with the correct course of action, we as a community will grow stronger.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Ellis estimated three demonstrators had come forward to file reports and several more were scheduled to come in and give statements.
The police chief could not give a timeline for the completion of the investigation, noting it was a significant event.
“The investigation will take a while,” he said. “We’re taking a lot of statements and reviewing the evidence. There are hours and hours of video to sort through.”
Ellis said he was planning to release a statement later Tuesday refuting allegations that some of his officers were marching alongside, and in support of, the counter-demonstrators on Sunday. According to Ellis, the body camera footage contradicts the claims adding, “They were trying to keep people separated as best they could and keeping the peace.”
Local law enforcement speaks out
Grass Valley — whose police department arrested a suspect in the shooting of an Airsoft gun at Back the Blue demonstrators Saturday — also released a statement Monday.
“The City of Grass Valley will, at every opportunity, do its best to provide people with safe places to exercise their First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble,” its statement read. “The city is resolute in its commitment to prevent altercations between people based upon opposing thought, or even worse, out of hatred for people not known to one another.”
As part of its statement, Grass Valley urged demonstrators to reach out to the police department beforehand, “so that we can help facilitate your rights in a safe, lawful and respectful manner.”
The Nevada County District Attorney’s Office on Facebook promised to “zealously prosecute all those who break the law or seek to use fear, violence or intimidation to silence others” regardless of political viewpoints.
“As a community let’s join together and show everyone that the actions of a few bad actors do not represent our values,” the post stated.
And Sheriff Shannan Moon offered a statement via video, noting deputies also responded Sunday after 911 calls started coming in about violence toward the protestors.
“We are conducting after-action reviews to determine what we did well, and what we can do better,” Moon said. “If anyone present at the incident has concerns with how the Sheriff’s Office staff performed, please do not hesitate to contact our office and have a conversation.”
Moon asked anyone planning a rally in the unincorporated area of Nevada County to reach out to Community Outreach Sgt. Brandon Corchero at 530-265-1292.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at email@example.com.
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